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November 23, 2013

N.H. considers letting first time DWI offenders stay on road

N.H. to debate limited privileges

(Continued)

“This keeps them from losing their job,” he said of drunken drivers.

Shurtleff anticipates support in both houses of the Legislature.

“I think it will be well received,” Shurtleff said.

Rep. Bob Fesh, R-Derry, a member of the House committee, agreed with Shurtleff’s analysis and said he supported the bill.

“I think it has a good chance of passing,” he said.

Fesh contends the bill has safeguards to protect the public, while assuring families of a drunken driver aren’t unfairly punished.

“This doesn’t put a family on welfare because you had a DWI and lost your job,” Fesh said.

The first-time offender can return to work and get counseling, he said.

“If they didn’t have a license, there is no way to attend that program,” Fesh said.

He said he likes that the bill would require offenders to pay for the sobriety system, not the taxpayer.

The cost is $80 per month.

“They have to pay,” Fesh said.

Additionally, the first-time offender would pay $50 for a special privilege license, he said.

Frank Harris, MADD’s state legislative affairs manager, said what Shurtleff proposes is one of the group’s top legislative priorities nationwide.

“The bill, from the way we interpret it, would increase the use of ignition interlock devices for convicted drunken drivers,” Harris said.

Mark Stevens, an attorney from Salem who handles drunken driving cases, said Shurtleff’s proposal is a great bill.

“This lets people keep their jobs and complete their treatment and all the aftercare ordered under a first offense,” Stevens said. “It’s a good idea. This lets somebody who makes a mistake admit to it, keep their job and keep their house.”

The Division of Motor Vehicles said 534 drivers in New Hampshire were using interlock devices on Nov. 1, but the number varies daily.

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